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Francis Crick Prize Lecture by Dr Jason Chin, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

The information for synthesizing the molecules that allow organisms to survive and replicate is encoded in genomic DNA. In the cell, DNA is copied to messenger RNA, and triplet codons in the messenger RNA are decoded in the process of translation to synthesize polymers of the natural 20 amino acids. This process (DNA > RNA > protein) describes the central dogma of molecular biology and is conserved in terrestrial life. Dr Chin will discuss the application of the approaches he has developed for incorporating unnatural amino acids into proteins and investigating diverse biological processes, with a particular emphasis on understanding the role of post-translational modifications. He will discuss the invention and synthetic evolution of new orthogonal translational components (including ribosomes and aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases) to address the major challenges in re-writing the central dogma of biology.

Dr Chin is a Group Leader at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology (MRC-LMB), and a fellow in the Natural Sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge. Dr Chin and his group are interested in re-writing the central dogma to create organisms that synthesize proteins containing unnatural amino acids and polymers composed of monomer building blocks beyond the 20 natural amino acids.